Tuesday, March 20, 2018

WYAH... Channel 27!

Yesterday, I was trying really hard to keep my mind off of my dogs.  Bill stopped by the vet's yesterday to find out if the test results were abnormal.  They were swamped and asked him to come back today.  I would hope that if something was seriously off, they would have taken the time to speak to him about it, but it's possible the vet hasn't looked at the results yet.  But anyway, the dogs are still acting very normally.  In fact, Zane and I took a wonderful nap yesterday afternoon.  I rarely get more than six hours of sleep at a time, so sometimes a nap is a good thing.

I feel a bit more relaxed today, although that may change after Bill talks to the vet.  He might come home and drop a bomb on me.  But I think the odds are the news won't be too catastrophic.  The dogs are acting normal, even if Bill did find some pee that looked "sugary".  As an aside to this vet drama, I'll probably be writing another post later, not that anyone cares.

Channel 27's religious programming... free to view.

WYAH signs on.

Anyway, one thing I did yesterday to keep my mind off of my worries was troll YouTube for videos of WYAH, Channel 27.  When I was growing up, I watched too much TV.  Two of my favorite channels were Channel 33 (WTVZ) and Channel 27 (WYAH).  They were independent stations that showed cartoons, reruns of sitcoms, bad movies, and cheesy commercials.  Channel 27 was especially interesting, though, because it was owned by Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson, as many people know, hosts the 700 Club and founded the Christian Broadcasting Network.  In the 1980s, CBN was a cable channel that was available on many networks.  We didn't get CBN, but we did get Channel 27 WYAH, which was based in Portsmouth, Virginia and served as Robertson's flagship station.  It was an "over the air" station, so one didn't necessarily need cable TV to get it, although having cable made it much easier to get clear reception.

In the 1980s, WYAH was a burgeoning channel that had evolved from its initially religious programming.  However, because it was a religious channel, it faced competition from WTVZ, which would air shows that WYAH wouldn't.  I distinctly remember flipping back and forth between the two channels to watch my favorite shows.  WYAH had some good ones-- including The Jeffersons, Private Benjamin, Diff'rent Strokes, and WKRP in Cincinnati and, of course, The Brady Bunch.  However, whenever there was a "bad word" uttered, WYAH would blank it out.  WTVZ had no such proclivities and there was no obvious censorship as there was on WYAH.

Someone uploaded a bunch of videos of commercials that were shown on Channel 27 back in the mid 80s.  I ended up watching all of them and it was like a blast from the past from my adolescence.  Channel 27 showed regular commercials, but they also aired a lot of religious PSAs and ads for religious programming.  One thing I noticed yesterday was that not all of the PSAs were for Protestants.  For instance, one message they showed was done by a nun-- Mother Basilea Schlink (edited to add: My German friend says that Mother Basilea Schlink was actually a Protestant sister.  I had no idea they existed).

This is an example of the kind of "ad" WYAH would air...  

I ran across another religious ad that I used to see very often when I was growing up.  I remember it distinctly.  A man was sitting outside on a sunny day, picking petals off of a daily.  He was saying, "She loves me.  She loves me not." over and over again.  Then the man, identified as Larry West, delivered a message about divorce.  He said that love is a "decision".  I never forgot that ad, but until yesterday, I hadn't seen it since the mid 80s.  

My memories of growing up in southeastern Virginia are full of these memories of watching Channel 27 and being exposed to its religious messages.  I didn't think they really affected me at the time.  In those days, I was very unreligious.  I'm probably even less religious today.  And yet, I do remember the PSAs and ads.

This bundle of ads from WYAH includes PSAs for the Statue of Liberty and Tourette's Syndrome...

At 3:26, you can see the daisy themed religious message from Larry West, who is apparently still spreading the gospel.  At 4:26, you can see an ad for "Sword of The Spirit" by Star R. Scott.  He's another evangelist spreading the gospel.

At 2:10, you can watch a message from Mother Basilea Schlink.  At 3:00, there's an ad for the 700 Club.

I suspect this post won't be of interest to people who didn't grow up in southeastern Virginia at the same time I did.  I just think it's interesting, since television has changed so much.  You don't see a lot of these independent stations anymore.  They're all part of networks now.  And now, people don't have to watch TV to be entertained.  We can go online or watch Netflix or YouTube or Hulu.  So memorable commercials and PSAs are probably not a thing to today's kids.  Hell, most channels don't even sign off anymore, like they did when I was a kid.  Most channels would sign off sometime in the late evening and there would be a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" after a station ID.

After I watched all of the Channel 27 videos on YouTube, I decided to listen to my favorite radio station from my old stomping grounds.  I distinctly remember in 1990, an exciting new radio station came on the air.  It was WAFX, The Fox, which played awesome classic rock.  I quickly became addicted to it.  I was a high school senior at the time.  In 1994, the station was purchased by Saga Communications, which didn't change the format.    

Radio, like TV, has gone pretty automated.  The original programming that was a big part of my childhood is no longer a given.  However, WAFX has maintained a few popular DJs.  I happened to catch Mike Arlo's Electric Lunch yesterday, which was airing in the late afternoon in Germany.  Mike Arlo has been a DJ in the Tidewater region for over 40 years and he's a much beloved character in those parts.  I got a thrill yesterday when I sent him an e-request and he obliged!

If I'm honest, I was feeling a little homesick yesterday.  Although I haven't lived in Virginia since 2007, it's still my home.  I was born and mostly raised there.  So it was pretty exciting to watch old videos from Channel 27 and listen to my favorite radio station from those days.  Technology is pretty awesome.


  1. i was a bit TV deprived as a kid except for the TV running with TBN or EWTN running continuously in the background when i was little, depending upon whether I was at home or at my aunt's house. If there were such a career as "professional television watcher" and I could actually earn a living by watching television for sixteen or seventeen hours per day, I would be very happy doing it.

    I've heard of Episcopal nuns. Former tennis player Andrea Jaeger is one. I don't know if they take a vow of celibacy or not. I looked up Mother Basilea Schlink. http://www.oocities.org/promo777/sismary.htm

    It would appear that she is in something of a self-created religion, though it would be correctly categorized as Protestant if she considers herself to have broken away from Roman Catholicism, which she most likely did. And if she didn't, she would have broken away from an existing Protestant church. (The article indicated she was schooled in a religious facility as a child.) That, too, would be considered Protestant. For that matter, maybe it's considered Protestant if a faith originated from an Eastern Orthodox Catholic body. Did they ever have any movement resembling the Protestant Reformation that took place in much of western Europe other than breaking apart from each other, resulting in the formation of other Eastern Orthodox churches?

    1. My German friend would be the better one to ask about Mother Basilea Schlink and European religions. I really don't know much about her. It was pretty funny that I posted those spots, though, because my friend didn't know that Basilea Schlink was known outside of Germany. She was surprised that there were TV spots featuring her in America.

  2. Regarding the Tourette's Syndrome commercial (it's technically "Tourette" now, but back then, it actually was "Tourette's") . . . your generation was probably not so crass as most of mine is. The commercial would have been totally pejorative in my day. The people with whom I grew up and even those just a few years older (most of my cohort mates) would have imitated the Tourette sufferers shamelessly.

    1. Honestly, I had never heard of Tourette Syndrome until 1993, when I worked at a church summer camp and one of my teenaged dishwashers had it. I remember he twitched a lot and had to take medication... and he also cussed a lot, though I don't think it had to do with the Tourette Syndrome.

  3. The one good thing about having Tourette Syndrome might be that a person could curse a blue streak and blame it on the disability.


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